Tempting as it may be to hop on your jet ski and zip over the waves without a care in the world, you must contain yourself. There are protocols and a code of conduct you need to abide by. Jet skiing is supposed to be fun for everyone. These rules in place ensure that those on the water are courteous and respectful of each other so everybody can have a good time.
Follow these guidelines when you’re on the water for an enjoyable and safe jet skiing experience.
Jet ski etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts
Jet ski etiquette is an unwritten and unspoken set of rules among riders. If you’re a newbie jet skier, study up on these guidelines to avoid accidental blunders.
Do know the right of way
Always keep right when approaching another jet ski or personal watercraft (PWC) head-on. This is applicable toopen waters and narrow channels. Remember, the vessel on the right has the right of way whenever two vessels are crossing paths.
If a vessel is crossing your path coming from your right side, slow down and let it pass first. Do the same for canoes, kayaks, sailboats, and other non-powered vessels.
Do know when to give way to overtaking vessels
Steer clear of vessels being overtaken, you don’t want to accidentally cut someone off. Passthem safely on either side. If a powered vessel is approaching you from the right, let them pass as they have the right of way. Also, give way to non-powered sailing vessels, canoes, and other passenger crafts.
Do not make too much noise
Keep your jet ski’s noise to a minimum whenever you’re near people. It might sound fun to speed around the water, but jet skis can be loud and hazardous to others. Be careful not to speed up near other boaters, the shoreline, or waterfront properties too.
Check the time when you’re out on your jet ski too. Avoid travelling at high speeds in the early hours of the morning when people can still be sleeping in their beds. It’s always wise to be polite.
Do not pollute or disrupt the environment
Don’t do anything that will pollute the waters when using your jet ski. This includes inappropriately disposing of trash, spilling oil or fuel, and jet skiing near reefs and aquatic animals. This is one of the most important jet ski rules you must follow. Having fun on the waters should not come at the expense of the environment.
Do respect everyone on the water
Be mindful of others whenever you’re out on the water. Jet skiers share the water with a plethora of other water farers. You’ll find swimmers, kayakers, canoers, water skiers, fishermen, and loads of boats on the water with you. Practice kindness and be respectful when interacting with the rest of the water enthusiasts in the community.
Jet ski safety: Keeping the waters safe
Safety should be a top priority when you’re out and about on your jet ski. Here are the safety guidelines around jet ski usage you have to follow:
Jump responsibly and avoid jet ski racing
Jumping is one of the most exhilarating jet ski moves out there. If you plan to jump off the wakes of a vessel, always ask for permission first. Also, don’t race with another skier to catch a wave because it’s dangerous and can cause serious accidents.
When you do jump, make sure you’re landing in a clear area with no swimmers or boaters. While you’re in the air, you won’t be able to steer back. You don’t want to accidentally hit anyone when you land.
Keep your distance
Jet skis travelling over 10 knots should be 60 metres away from swimmers and non-powered vessels. You have to keep 30 metres distance from any of the following:
- Boats anchored, moored, or aground
- Boat ramps, wharves, pontoons, or jetties within 30 metres of people in the water
- Powered boats
By jet skiing at a safe distance from any person or object, you’ll not only be able to enjoy jet skiing better, but also reduce the chances of accidents on the waters.
Be aware of your surroundings
Use your eyes and ears to ensure your surroundings are safe for jet skiing. Collisions are the most common accidents while jet skiing so always keep an eye out for others on the water. Always keep an eye out for any signs of danger. Be extra alert in bad weather or when there’s limited visibility.
Wear proper safety equipment
You should always have the right safety gear when you hop on your jet ski. This includes an approved lifejacket, eye protection, and a safety lanyard. Other equipment to help keep you safe are surf booties, deck shoes, gloves,and a wet suit. Bring a whistle with you in case of emergencies, as well.
Jet ski rules of the water: Guidelines by states and territories
These are the requirements put in place to ensure safety on the water. Keep these in mind before you go for a ride.
Get your jet ski licence
In most states and territories, you’re required to have a boat and/or PWC licence to ride a jet ski. Some states and territories also have an age restriction on what age you’re allowed to ride a jet ski unsupervised. Look up the jet ski licence rules in your state and territory to ensure you’re abiding by the law.
Follow the speed limit
The jet ski speed limit varies per state and territory. In general, there is a speed limit for each body of water within each state. Jet skiers between 12 to 16 years old should not drive at a speed greater than 20 knots. If you’re in boat harbours and marinas, the speed limit is 6 knots.
Whichever state or territory you live in, remember to drive your jet ski at a safe speed. That means you can stop the jet ski in time to avoid any immediate danger on your path.
Never exceed the speed limit and always consider the visibility, currents, waves, wind, and the presence of hazards. Some speed limits are displayed while others are not. Do your due diligence before heading out on your jet ski.
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Why is jet ski etiquette important?
Jet ski etiquette benefits the whole community. It is there to keep everyone safe and ensures everyone has a good experience on the water.
What safety gear should I wear while jet skiing?
Jet skiers should wear the following safety gear:
- Eye protection
- Safety lanyard
- Surf booties
- Deck shoes
How should I interact with other watercraft and swimmers while jet skiing?
Always keep a safe distance away from other watercraft and swimmers while jet skiing. Don’t come too close and be mindful of your position on the water so as not to accidentally collide with anyone.
Can I ride my jet ski anywhere in the water?
Some areas may have restrictions on where you can ride your jet ski. It’s best to be aware of the restricted areas beforehand so as not to wander off into places that are off-limits.
How can I minimise the impact of my jet ski on the marine environment?
Jet skis aren’t the best for marine life because of the noise pollution. The best way to minimise your impact is by keeping the speeds low so as to not make so much noise. Also, make sure not to leave any rubbish or oil spills behind.
Are there any specific rules for group riding on jet skis?
There aren’t any rules surrounding group riding when it comes to jet skis. As long as the group follows proper jet ski etiquette and local rules, then it shouldn’t be a problem.
What should I keep in mind when launching and docking my jet ski?
You need to be aware of your surroundings when you’re launching and docking your jet ski. Know where you’ll secure your vessel to the dock once it’s time to dock and make sure that the way is clear.
What should I do in case of an emergency while jet skiing?
In case of emergencies, the best thing to do is keep calm and call for help. Have a whistle with you so you can alert those around you that you need assistance.